Day 7 (June 22, 2010)
The streets of Cameroon are an interesting thing. I’ve already discussed their hectic nature in an earlier post. What I haven’t added is that there aren’t any stop lights in Buea, and many don’t have street lights either. It doesn’t disturb the residents of course, but it has bothered me on more than one occasion. On both sides of the street are these deep channels where the constant rain can flow. Because there are practically no trash cans in Buea (the City Council does a terrible job), many trash is simply thrown in the canals and allowed to wash down to wherever they finally dump out, presumably far enough away from Buea that the residents shouldn’t be affected by it. This is part of Adam’s research and he seems extremely bothered by the trash handling in Buea and has also pointed out multiple times that the canals do not in fact lead that far away from Buea and that it’s actually going to be responsible for health hazards soon. It’s shameful to see so much trash on the streets but there really isn’t much that can be done—I literally walked around with some trash for an hour waiting to find a place to throw it away before conceding and tossing it in myself. Even when one does find a trash can (which has only happened once), no one is sure what many of the people are actually doing with it afterwards.
Today was a pretty exciting day. Streets in Buea are lined with tiny road stalls and shops literally every 2-3 feet. Mostly they sell food, cell phones, cell phone credit that can be used to make calls, or the ability to use their phone to make phone calls on the cheap. In fact, the people that sell the cell phone and the cell phone credit probably outnumber any group in Buea save perhaps for the taxi drivers. They all sit in front of large podiums, typically with an umbrella above it, and wait for people to come up to them.
Typically the food stalls sell either beef, fish, or corn. Though these are all very tasty (actually the corn isn’t that tasty from the one that I’ve tasted), especially the beef, I had begun to grow a little tired of constantly eating beef, bread, and bananas (these were quite common too). Also, none of this really felt, Cameroonian…I wanted something that was a little more traditional. I told Levi about my feelings and so he took me to a restaurant (my first actual restaurant in Cameroon) and we had guacoco and mbanga soup—delicious. As in many things in Cameroon, it was spicy but not excessively so. Essentially it’s a soup with some type of fish inside served with some type of vegetable (I wasn’t familiar with the name, it’s probably grown only in Africa) that was mashed into a long rod. The texture was kind of like that of rice noodles (or whatever the flat disk-like noodles are that is often served at Thai restaurants).
Later I also asked him if he would take me to a tailor to get myself measured for some clothing that was traditionally African. We picked it out and I’m pretty excited but I don’t get it until tomorrow evening.
A particular shop across from Genesis house is one that I frequent often, mostly because of its proximity. I like the family there, though they did try (successfully) to overcharge me for some banana’s when I first got here. Yesterday night when I came and asked for eggs (I usually get random stuff, to the family’s amusement), the boy working there made an odd grin and asked me rather flatly,
“What’s your name?”
“Brandon,” I replied, waiting a bit. He continued to smile at me, as if there was something comical about me and my name.
“…what’s your name?”
“Ah ok. Great!” I gave him the thumbs up at this point, which made me feel a little ridiculous because I’ve been doing this to everyone here to express happiness. I’m not sure what else to do though…I figured it was universal enough to convey my emotion, because I did feel pretty happy that he had asked for my name, even if our conversation didn’t exactly grow much after that.